Category Archives: MySQL

Unhappy Blogger Cancels Hosting, Creates New Blogging Platform

That unhappy blogger was me back in 2005.

What happened?

– I was told that my WordPress blog was “hogging the server” and to go elsewhere. (Site5)

– With another host, hackers broke into the central database, which took my content offline every time the passwords changed. That same host also had a massive disk failure that knocked me offline for days. (Media Temple)

– Another host’s upstream provider was shutdown for not paying its bills.

– Another host’s business partner stole the server in the middle of the night.
There’s more stories, but I will spare you the horrible details. Based on years of hosting experience that other bloggers did not have, I knew I was paying too much for hosting services that were not reliable. As a full-time blogger just starting out without corporate sponsorship, I was depending on my blog to pay my rent. If my blog was offline, then I was concerned about my bills. And even when my blog was online working correctly, I didn’t want to spend more than necessary. In general, I don’t want to spend more than 10% of my blog’s revenue on hosting.

While frustrating, this was a great learning experience.

– I learned that the largest hosting companies in the world, when pressed for answers, had no idea what they were doing.

– I learned how to recover from all kinds of random disasters, a skill that helped me to improve the reliability of my new WordPress hosting service.

– I learned that WordPress was resource intensive, requiring virtualization (resource protection) and careful attention to details like memory allocation.

After years of resistance, I decided to learn Linux, the operating system that runs the Internet. Let me tell you, learning system administration for WordPress was not easy. There’s no comprehensive how-to guide or launch button shortcut. At this point, my internal documentation is huge, and constantly changing with each new version of WordPress, PHP, MariaDB, NginX, Certbot, etc. You need to know how everything works, because eventually something will break.

In the past I was willing to pay a system admin to do this complex Linux work for me, because it wasn’t very expensive and my time was better spent working on content, code, graphics and advertising. To be fair, you can call some system admins in the middle of the night and they will fix things (with the baby crying) but that is rare. Eventually, I realized that I was losing a lot of time and money due to incompetence, greed, and lack of commitment. As a small fish in an ocean of bigger blogs, I found that hosts did not care about my business.

As people have greater and greater expectations for their websites and blogs, the code is much more complicated than it was 20 years ago. As a result, the cost to hire WordPress engineers is up to $200K/year. Frankly, I’m losing money by not accepting these jobs. But managing the servers myself, I have more control of all the settings, and I can keep costs low, and I get to help awesome bloggers and their families make more money online.

Before WordPress, web hosts enjoyed fat profits from static web pages that cost very little to serve. That’s because “static pages” (the opposite of fresh, dynamic pages) don’t use much RAM or CPU time. Hosting companies can cram thousands of accounts into a single server. They do this at your expense. Meaning, you’re a valued customer as long as your blog/website doesn’t do much and doesn’t have many visitors, as long as it’s using a small slice of the server resources.

In that restrictive environment, WordPress cannot grow.
🪴 Like a plant in a pot that’s too small. 🪴
Search engines are smart enough to not send you more visitors than you can handle. If your website is restricted, search engines consider that a poor experience. And speed is not the only restriction. There are freshness restrictions (cache, gzip) and marketing restrictions (UTMs) and image restrictions (CDNs.) To increase traffic, your host needs to unlock those restrictions. For those wonderful days when you get a big burst of new visitors!

Before starting with WordPress, I already had a decade of experience working on websites and software for various businesses, like IBM. The tech skills were already in my wheelhouse. The new thing to learn was how to acquire great clients, like you. I had to learn to sell by listening and providing information.

What sets me apart from the competition?

1. Agility. Unlike my competition, I’m not locked-in to any big tech contract. That means I can move away from problems, and to better data centers as needed. Prices change, requirements change, management changes, and then you have fires, floods, and all kinds of disasters. When that happens, we need the freedom to move!

Sometimes my job is to rescue you from a bad situation you’re stuck in. I understand what it feels like, and I’m able to migrate your blog or website to my servers with minimal downtime.

2. Real-life experience. When something does break, I fix it. Because I’m also an experienced developer. I can fix software and content and data and URLs that seem to be hopelessly broken. For example, I discovered SparkCognition’s marketing datasets were crashing. The solution was to move the datasets off of Godaddy. I wish it was always that easy!

Included in your hosting cost, I do minor fixes for free. I want to keep your business. Beyond that, I charge an hourly rate for writing code, theme changes, or content changes. Think of your quarterly hosting cost like a retainer. If you’re already a client, it’s that much easier for me to mount your files and make changes.

3. Intercontinental backups. If a server is hit by an asteroid, or a power grid goes down, we have a backup server on the other side of the world. And these backups happen daily. Additionally, you can download these daily backups whenever you like, without installing any extra plugins. Which means you’re never locked-in.

4. Fastest DNS servers. Most of you reading this are using your host’s slow DNS servers. When your host is down, there’s a good chance your DNS is down too. My strategy is different. I pay top-ranked DNS experts to host my DNS. If there’s an emergency, that means I can move your blog/website to another location, or a whole different country.

5. Growth-minded pricing. Here’s another gotcha. For most blogs, ad revenue grows linear with traffic. If your traffic doubles, your revenue doubles. If traffic is cut in half, your revenue is cut in half. Many hosts punish success by charging exponentially more as you grow. When that happens, your hosting cost can cut deeper and deeper into your profit. My invoices are structured to grow (or shrink) in a linear way as a function of your long-term success.

6. Simple interface. No extra dashboards, control panels, or staging servers to learn. You already know how to use WordPress. (If you don’t, let’s talk.) But I bet you don’t want to learn a whole new system when you switch hosts. Hosting with me, there’s nothing new to learn. The benefit, besides avoiding the extra work, those confusing control panels eat up valuable server resources, which means your blog will run faster and you’ll save money.

If you’re a developer and actually want a staging server, you could try hiring me, but expect to pay at least $200K. You could use Pantheon, but like I explained already, they block UTMs, important server environment variables, you won’t have access to your PHP configuration, and you don’t get ssh access with them either.

Want more information? Ready to sign up for WordPress hosting? Write me an email or give me a call.